HP unveils 3Com roadmap, goes

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s battle with Cisco Systems Inc. continued on Monday as the company announced its plan to integrate its newly acquired 3Com networking products into its existing ProCurve portfolio.


With the new HP Networking portfolio, the company is providing customers with technology architecture built on open standards, which covers everything from the network edge to the core of the data centre. HP added that by combining 3Com’s H3C and TippingPoint brand products with the rest of HP ProCurve’s portfolio, customers will be offered an extremely viable alternative to Cisco.


The new portfolio features four different product offerings which are geared toward large and small enterprises. Marius Haas, senior vice-president and general manager of HP’s Networking group, said there was very little product overlap between the HP ProCurve and 3Com portfolios.


Both brands will be gone in exchange for HP’s A, E, V, and S lines of products.


The 3Com brand will be integrated into HP’s A-Series, which is focused on large and complex enterprises looking for end-to-end networking and security solutions, while the E-Series and V-Series will be aimed at medium and small businesses respectively.


The S-Series products will be geared toward customers looking for additional network security tools and will feature 3Com’s TippingPoint intrusion prevention technology.


Dave Donatelli, executive vice-president and general manager of servers, storage and networking for HP’s Enterprise division, said that customers have struggled with one viewpoint in the enterprise networking market for years.


“Customers know the constraints in networking are going to be lifted,” he said. “Our new model encompasses more choice at a lower cost of ownership.”


With the 3Com acquisition, Donatelli added, HP Networking will become an integral part of the HP Converged Infrastructure strategy, which aims to eliminate silos of servers, storage and networking to create virtual resource pools.


The company also appears to be eating its own dog food.


Just hours prior to its 3Com roadmap announcement, HP revealed details about its newly built Houston data centre, which it referred to as “Cisco-free.” The internal data centre includes dozens of 3Com core routers, four TippingPoint intrusion detection and prevention devices, and several hundred HP ProCurve switches.


Ken Gray, vice-president of infrastructure at HP’s global IT organization, said the company will be getting rid of Cisco equipment across all of its internal data centres over the next year.


One key for HP will be its effort to increase the integration across their “converged infrastructure” architecture, said Mark Fabbi, vice-president and distinguished analyst with Gartner Inc.’s enterprise communications group.


“Given HP’s strong position in enterprise data centres, this will result in a very strong competitor to Cisco,” he said. “What many organizations don’t understand is just how much of the total Ethernet market HP will ship. In terms of port shipments, Cisco sells only 33 per cent more ports than the combined HP, so already HP becomes a formidable threat.”


Another way to differentiate from Cisco could be for HP to combine the innovation and R&D already coming out of China with its expertise and optimized supply chain, he added.


“We expect prices to continue to decrease in this market due to pressure being applied by HP,” Fabbi said. “When you combine this with HP’s strong support and services, it creates new dynamics that we haven’t experience in this market.”


HP announced it would keep the H3C brand in China due to its huge market share in the country


“There are really no concerns for current 3Com/H3C customers as the entire high-end portfolio comes across and HP will clearly increase investments into the portfolio,” said Fabbi. “On the HP ProCurve side, there will likely be more issues for larger customers as they will likely want to take advantage of the new capabilities being added.”


With HP putting a lot of effort into integrating the two portfolios as seamlessly as possible, Fabbi expects HP’s A-Series and E-Series products will merge toward a common technology base as opposed to the heritage of two separate portfolios.


In terms of the getting its products out to customers, HP said it would use the full force of its massive sales and services organization as well as the strength of 40,000 networking partners.

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